District E: DC’s new downtown esports venue

The image of esports used to be of gamers competing while hidden away in basements. Now, esports are mainstream and gamers in the District are about to gain a new home downtown.

Monumental Sports and Entertainment has announced plans for an esports and entertainment venue adjacent to Capital One Arena in D.C.’s Gallery Place.

Scheduled to open in fall 2022, District E Powered by Ticketmaster, will be a 14,000-square-foot space featuring an esports competition studio and an esports practice center, along with restaurant and bar options.

“D.C. is one of the youngest communities in the country and we think that’s a great sign of growth when you score really high with millennials and Gen Z,” said Zach Leonsis, Monumental Sports and Entertainment president of media and new enterprises. “We’re also one of the most highly wired communities in D.C. and so that has fostered a really deep and rich gaming community but right now they don’t have a place to gather.”

In addition to being a place for the gaming community to convene and connect, there will be Capitals and Wizards pre- and post-game events in District E. The facility will also play host to community events and concerts with the goal of attracting more people to downtown Washington.

In short, District E is the marriage of entertainment and esports in one place, but the primary focus is for the facility to be a destination gaming studio. There will be state-of-the-art streaming pods, and Leonsis hopes that will make District E an esports-centric venue to serve as a rallying point for the gaming community in the Mid-Atlantic.

“You can imagine that during the day, this will be set up as a computer lab sort of an esports café,” said Leonsis. “It will be where players can come and play on top-of-the-line equipment and stream their favorite games to their friends. We will be hosting grassroots amateur level tournaments and then at night hosting in real-life pro competitions and watch parties.”

Esports has evolved into an accepted alternative to traditional sports, but not a replacement for physical activity. Instead, esports provides a healthy and inclusive outlet for competition and fun.

“One of the things that we think is really great about esports is that it doesn’t matter what physical attributes you’re born with, if you can play you can play,” said Leonsis. “There’s some kids that are choosing to play esports and we want to be supportive of that.”

Led by Leonsis, Monumental Sports and Entertainment was an early investor in esports and its professional portfolio includes Wizards District gaming, winner of two consecutive NBA 2K League titles, Caps Gaming and global esports leader Team Liquid. These teams and more will be able to use District E’s practice center to prepare for the competition.

“What it comes down to is that we’re in the business of gathering communities in person,” said Leonsis. “District E powered by Ticketmaster is another way for us to do that.”

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson is Senior Sports Director and morning sports anchor. He first arrived at WTOP in 1989, left in 1992 and returned in 1995. He is a three-time winner of the A.I.R. award as best radio sportscaster in D.C. In 2008 he won the Edward R. Murrow award for best writing for sports commentaries.

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